April 11, 2013

Review: The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna


Title: The Lost Girl
Author: Sangu Mandanna
Release Date: August 28th, 2012
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Page Count: 432
Source: Borrowed from Faye
Rating: ★★★★☆
Eva's life is not her own. She is a creation, an abomination--an echo. She was made by the Weavers as a copy of someone else, expected to replace a girl named Amarra, her "other," if she ever died. Eva spends every day studying that girl from far away, learning what Amarra does, what she eats, what it's like to kiss her boyfriend, Ray. So when Amarra is killed in a car crash, Eva should be ready.

But sixteen years of studying never prepared her for this.

Now she must abandon everything and everyone she's ever known--the guardians who raised her, the boy she's forbidden to love--to move to India and convince the world that Amarra is still alive.

What Eva finds is a grief-stricken family; parents unsure how to handle this echo they thought they wanted; and Ray, who knew every detail, every contour of Amarra. And when Eva is unexpectedly dealt a fatal blow that will change her existence forever, she is forced to choose: Stay and live out her years as a copy or leave and risk it all for the freedom to be an original. To be Eva.

[Summary Source: Goodreads]
THE REVIEW

Eva is an echo. This means she was created to take the place of someone when said someone dies. So she looks like someone else, acts like someone else, talks like someone else, likes what someone else likes... or at least she's supposed to. When the original to Eva's copy dies and Eva has to go take her place, well, not everything goes the way it's supposed to.

Let's break this down:

Can I tell you why I love this book so much? Here's why.

First of all, I LOVE EVA AND SEAN. Dear GOD they are amazing together and apart and whoa I just want to read about them forever. My only complaint about them as a pair comes at the end of the book when Sean gets all angryface at her and I'm like, "Well, that doesn't make ANY sense." I wasn't mad at him for being mad at her. It just didn't make sense. But that was just a little blip and everything else just left me a puddle of goo so I don't even care.

Then there's Eva as an individual. Girl's TOUGH. She doesn't back down, she doesn't throw herself a pity party. Sure, she needs a reminder to keep her shit together, but she DOES IT. And I kind of like that she needs a reminder to fight for herself because otherwise she'd come off too headstrong and that's not what I wanted from her. No. She's brilliant just the way she is.

The rest of the cast is also pretty brilliant. Not just Sean. Everyone. Eva's family in England, her family in India... even all of Amarra/Eva's friends in India. They all served a brilliant role and I didn't hate a single one of them. Sure, sometimes I wanted to pull my hair out because AFKLJSFUEBVNS some people are MORONS (yeah, NO SPOILERS HERE), but I totally understood the feelings they felt and, as such, I totally understood all of their actions.

Yeah. The feelings. Not only did I understand them but OH DEAR GOD they were heavy. I feel like sometimes dystopian novels are less about the feels and more about the corrupt government or whatever. THIS BOOK (along with most of my favorite dystopians) wasn't like that. There's no greater good question (thank GOD. I hate that). It's just about Eva coming to terms with who she is and all the strife that brings. The moral dilemmas introduced here are seriously ugh-inducing. Basically the whole book broke my heart.

Oh, and the words Sangu Mandanna used to compose this amazing book that made me feel all the feels? I just want to hug them. I want to hug each and every word that fills the pages of this book. And that's a lot of hugs, even for a huggy girl like me.

So why isn't this book a 5-star, considering it sounds like I love it to pieces? Well, that bit with Eva and Sean as mentioned above made me a little unnecessarily confused. And then, since the book was about Eva and her growth, I feel like the world building lacked a solid foundation. Yes, I like it better when a dystopian is feels heavy, but I still need foundation. (I'm getting a little contradictory here, but I want the best of every world, damnit.)

Yeah, so, the lack of foundation WOULD be fine in the event of a second book. The ending leaves room for it but there's no proof there's gonna be one. Don't get me wrong, I don't need Eva to become dystopian hero and destroy the government and make things better for echoes or whatever, I'd just like a little more background detail. Oh, and I don't particularly like books with open-ish endings. Either leave an open-ish ending if there's for sure going to be a second book, or give a girl some real closure, would ya?

But y'know what? The fact that I gave this one 4 stars despite the eh world building and ending issues is PROOF that you guys really should read this one. Really. Everything else was so brilliant I can't even.

The long and short of it?

Plot: Different and really evocative. Even before I started it I knew it was either going to be tough to get through or incredibly compelling just because of the subject matter. It was the latter. For real.
World Building: I'm still pretty hazy on the structure. Some people make echoes? The government doesn't like it? But it still happens? I don't really know. But all of the characters and feels in this book make me not care.
Character Development: Absolutely stunning. Not only is Eva someone worth watching - a character who's really worth your time, but so is just about everyone else in this book.
Prose: STUNNING. Seriously. I will hug every word.
Would I Recommend This Book?: Even if you're not a fan of dystopian books I think you should give this one a shot. This one's less about the corrupt future world and more about the emotional component. And Eva's really wonderful. Seriously.

Have you read this one? DO YOU LOVE SEAN? I would ask if you love Eva but really, Sean is the important one here. Let me know about all of your bookish feels in the comments below!

16 comments:

  1. I'm wondering if this one was meant to be a series and maybe didn't sell enough to get the other books? I know that happens sometimes. I've tried and tried to dig up any info on a second book, novella, or anything. So even though I'm still dying a little instead, bc this one left off on a very "to be continued" note, yeah, I loved it too. I'm SO happy you did, Gaby!

    Isn't Eva once kick-butt girl? I loved her so much for that, and really dug her. I wish I had connected a little bit more - I was waiting for the tears, signaling the FEELS - but I liked her so much, and Sean, too. It's funny, I read CREWEL not long after I read this one, and the concept in it reminded me just a bit of TLG in some ways. So I think you might really like Crewel too, if you haven't already read it!

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

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    1. I also tried to dig up anything on a second book and there's NOTHING. It's so frustrating. But I'm glad you liked it also!! <3

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  2. I'm honestly very, very curious about this one! I've seen it around but haven't read it yet, unfortunately. Sounds like a book I'm going to like though because I love books that give me FEELINGS.

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    1. DEFINITELY read it!!!! Skip the curious and just read!!!!

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  3. Ha, so don't hate me, but I did like Eva and Sean and I even thought they were cute together, but I didn't want them to end up together at all. I want my open-ended, perhaps even death-ridden dystopian ending sometimes, you know. Sigh. Young adult dystopians just need less romance. GRRR.

    BUT I still did really like this, even if some elements could have been stronger. Like the ending. *glares* I remember wanting it to end without the last chapter. Haha.

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    1. I totally agree abou dystopians need less romance. Maybe then there'd be more room for world building. But I CANNOT help but LOVE Eva and Sean >.<

      And yeah, the book without the last chapter probably would have been better!!

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  4. I bought this book waaaay back in 2012 (November haha) and I put it on my Fall TBR but that... um... never happened. However, I am SO excited after reading your review. I love me some strong female characters, and how could I say no to FEELINGS? I like feelings. A lot.

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    1. WHO DOESN"T LOVE FEELINGS? But seriously. Got get on this one. Please.

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  5. So if we do like dystopias and are not so much motivated by romance and are more interested in the crazy awesome world/concept? Just wondering ;-)

    Anya @ On Starships and Dragonwings

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  6. I absolutely loved the concept of this book but I wish I knew more about what was going on in the world. Like how common is it for people to get killed and therefore causes a need for an echo? Overall a very enjoyable read. Lovely review.

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    1. GOOD POINT. How many people do have echoes? But yeah, I still loved the concept enough not to care.

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  7. Hrm. I've actually checked this one out from thee library a few times, but other books got in the way and I never actually read it. I've heard good things and your review makes me all excited to read it, but I'm really not a fan of open endings. I need closure! I guess I'll think on it a bit more.

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    1. I totally get needing closure. Definitely don't pick up a book if you don't think the ending's going to do it for you!!

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  8. As much as I loved Eva and Sean (apart from that blip. You are so right about that!) and just Eva herself, I find the relationships that I love the most in any book are about secondary characters like Mina Ma. I love that she's not related to Eva and yet she cares for her like she is. I love that relationship beyond words.

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    1. I TOTALLY get how you feel about the Eva-Mina Ma relationship. So sweet, so perfect. But all the relationships in this book are just so perfect. I love it.

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